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May 25, 2011

NSSF Supports Outdoor Media


From national groups like the Professional Outdoor Media Association and the 84-year-old Outdoor Writers Association of America to regional and state organizations, the National Shooting Sports Foundation continues to support outdoor media. These groups play a vital roll in helping NSSF and others that support hunting and target shooting get their messages to readers through outlets ranging from local newspapers to national radio and television shows.

Outdoor media professionals, especially those working for newspapers, are living in challenging times. Many newspapers have reduced or eliminated their outdoors coverage, and a number of outdoor writers have lost full-time jobs or the steady work that supported them as freelancers. This is due, of course, to the new and disruptive technologies affecting information distribution, with the cherry topping of a lousy economy.

But you can’t kill an outdoor writer.

Some who lost jobs have taken positions in public relations or outside of media altogether, yet they continue to pursue their outdoor passions and their craft by writing for blogs and websites and doing online radio and video. How to make the transition to new media and use it to market your work is the seminar stuff of all outdoor media conferences these days. The new world of new media is frustrating for many, especially for traditionalists, but at the same time it can be exciting and liberating. An example of the educational workshops being offered is a seminar presented last fall by NSSF’s Bill Dunn, director of emerging media and PR News’ Digital Communicator of the Year, titled “Getting the Most Out of New Media.” The seminar earned praise from a big crowd at the Southeastern Outdoor Writers Association (SEOPA) Conference and, we hope, led to paychecks for media members.

As the organizations struggle to add younger faces to their aging membership ranks, some are embracing the new world and adding membership categories for bloggers, for example —at least for those bloggers who can meet the criteria of a professional media organization. Industry companies—the organizations’ “supporting members”—are still a vital source of support, and though companies don’t send representatives to conferences in the numbers they once did, they continue to pay their dues, recognizing the value of new-product publicity that media can provide. For active media members, conferences remain important occasions to network, keep up with technology and, always a highlight, bestow excellence-in-craft awards.

Outdoor writer Doyle Dietz with NSSF's Bill Brassard.

This month outdoor writer Doyle Dietz took top honors in the Hunting/Shooting Sports Award category at the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association Conference in Bedford. NSSF sponsored the prize and the Saturday night awards dinner.

Dietz’s story, “Gridiron to 12 Gauge,” is a good example of how outdoor writers create a positive image for hunting and target shooting at the grassroots level. Published in the Republican Herald in Pottsville, Dietz’s story earned praise from the judges, who said, “The writer does an excellent job of introducing you to 16-year-old Brady Simms, a young man who loves the game of football but has a great eye for sporting clays and is now nationally recognized.” Dietz wrote that Simms earned recognition from the local school board and that his target-shooting passion has the complete support of his football and track coaches.

Said Simms, “I’d have to say that playing a team sport like football helps me compete when I shoot. And, I think that having to concentrate when you shoot helps me when I’m playing football.”

The POWA website has the complete list of craft award winners. Bob Lollo is that group’s executive director.

The New York State Outdoor Writers Association, which gathered at Letchworth State Park in western New York from May 12-15, is proud of its youngest member. Richard DeMarte’s article, “Once Bitten, Forever Hooked,” appears in the just-arrived Spring edition of Eddies, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service magazine. His article delivers the conservation message. As a high school sophomore last year, Richard submitted another magazine article he had written, which earned him a first place in the organization’s Excellence in Craft writing recognition program.  People like Richard help assure us of the continuing tradition of strong outdoor coverage for years to come.

In other organization news, OWAA’s membership elected three new members to the board of directors: Bruce Cochran (Kansas), Mary J. Nickum (Arizona) and Randy Zellers (Arkansas). They will take their board seats on July 11, in conjunction with OWAA’s annual conference in Salt Lake City. Robin Giner is OWAA’s executive director.

The Northwest Outdoor Writers Association, which met in late April in Bellingham, Wash., has new officers: president, Bill Mullins of Boise, ID; vice president, Eric Hansen of Corvallis, Ore.; 2nd vice president, Gary Lewis of Bend, Ore.;  and secretary/treasurer, Debbie Kerr of Kimberly, British Columbia. Debbie is the group’s executive director.